While no one knows the future of the trucking industry for sure, there is a lot of information that shows that the trucking industry will continue to grow in North America.
One of the biggest subjects industry members talk about is the automation of drivers. There are large corporations who have already been testing this, most industry experts do not think a truck will be on the road with no human inside. The title and tasks may just change. According to truckingnews.com, new possible titles could include logistics manager or freight engineer. The person’s role may not be to drive the truck but to oversee the systems that control the truck and load. The same blog proposes that the update in systems may make a career in the trucking industry more appealing to younger people due to the technical aspect of the updated position. The new tasks are being compared to what a pilot does for a plane.
As said by the American Trucking Association, an estimated 160,000 trucking positions will go unfilled in the next decade. That is why the industry is looking to automation to fill those positions. With increased demands for quick delivery from the likes of retail giants Amazon, the pressure has never been higher in the trucking industry. If there are no drivers to move freight then a more cost-effective way has to be found. This is why now, more than ever automation is in the near future.
In 2015, a company called Tu-Simple, started testing and driving autonomous trucks. They have been hauling day and night for companies like UPS and the United States Postal Service. By late 2019, there were 37 trucks running in the state of Arizona. As said by Tu-Simple’s Director of Public Affairs, ‘it’s been nothing but positives, productivity and efficiency on the road have significantly increased.’
In late 2019, Uber announced Uber Frieght would launch in Canada. The service has been available in the United States for the past couple years. Uber Frieght has the same concept as Uber for passengers; it connects users with service providers but will transport goods instead of people. Uber Frieght facilitates both domestic and cross-border loads. Uber is not the only service provider, Covey also offers a digital marketplace for matching carriers to shippers as well as C.H. Robinson who are still working on digitalizing their process.
With over 181,000 tractor-trailer drivers in Canada alone, there is no doubt that the trucking industry will not be going anywhere soon. In fact, it is believed that the automation of trucks will create more jobs within the trucking industry. It is not a matter of if the trucking industry becomes automated anymore it is a matter of when.